Study Guide Resources Topics/Schedule/Assignments Syllabus

modified: 5 August 2016

Learning Activities – Course Requirements. This is a course in participation, cognizant of an Indigenous learning style and pedagogy. You cannot assume a passive observer's role, viewing the Indian world from afar.   To successfully engage these learning activities, attendance and active learning at all class sessions, in the classroom and outside the classroom, is critical.   If you cannot attend a class or family session, please notify you family's elders for make-up work, copying that notification to the instructor.   Repeated absences will only hurt you and will hurt the other members of your family, lowering your evaluations.    Out of respect for others, please do not use cell phones during class, and unless used for taking notes, no open laptop computers. Out of respect for others, only one person at a time should be telling a story, no side conversations.  Repeated absences (including being late to class) will render you as a "rock,"  . . . . .  and rocks don't get good grades!   And there are many ways to accumulate rocks.  Loading your pockets with rocks only slows your progress toward the course's pilgrimage destination.   Shouldering too many rocks will prevent you from even reaching that destination.

For each "rock" gathered you will forfeit one (1) grade point from your total individual grade score, despite whatever you might earn in group learning activities.  

You will be expected to complete the following learning activities.
1. Story  10% of the final grade
2. Participatory Project  30%
3. In the Rounds 35% for undergrads and 25% for grads
4. In-class discussion and reflective writes/talks 15%
5. Field Trips 10%
6. Graduate Student Responsibilities 10% of the final grade

To begin to appreciate an Indian learning style, while participating in class sessions and during group projects, you will assume the kinship roles and relations typical of a Plateau family.  First familiarize yourself with and then “become” a member of bilateral, kinship-based, extended family.  You will attempt to emphasize the various reciprocal relations of proper etiquette and duty each member has to others based upon gender and generation as you conduct yourself in this course.  Your family will become your study and learning cohort, and organize your “in the round” presentations and participatory projects.   Remember that the Plateau family is a very flexible and adaptive structure, with membership freely moving among bilateral-related families and with adoption into another family always an option.   You can change your family affiliation mid-stream during this course, if desired.  See Family Groupings for your membership affiliation.  

Course Evaluation.   While individual and interpersonal competition have always been an important part of family and interfamily life, expressed in stick games, foot racing, horse racing and powwow dancing, for example, the goal of traditional education is not individual autonomy but rather individual competency that is integrated into a functioning and nurturing family whole.   Children and young adults were not typically situated in a standardized learning environment competing one-on-one with others, resulting in differentiated graded outcomes.  Hence, many of the learning activities in this course are "family" group based.  In lieu of evaluating and assigning grades based on a competitive field, family groupings and, when needed each individual student will receive a portfolio evaluation based on the group's (or his or her individual) proficiency demonstrated in the Learning Activities and competencies shown in the Learning Outcomes.   The written evaluations will be provided at mid-term, following the first “in the round,” and again following the presentation of the participatory projects and final recitation.  Individual feedback can always be solicited by the student at anytime during the semester.  To satisfy the Registrar’s office and your Degree Audit, your family-based portfolio evaluation will be translated into receiving a letter grade of A or B, or D or F – high or moderate engaged proficiency and competency in the Learning Outcomes and Activities, or low or no engaged proficiency and competency in the Leaning Outcomes and Activities.   See web syllabus for Evaluation Rubric.     While much of the learning activities in this course will be based upon a group evaluation, the instructor reserves the right to evaluate each student individually.   The instructor does have the liberty to offer differentiated grades within a family group, if, for example, an undergraduate does not contribute his or her fair share, or a graduate student does not meet expectations for graduate work.

1.  Story The first activity is the re-telling of one "authentic" oral narrative using "appropriate" techniques of telling.  In order to better appreciate Indian culture from the perspective of the Indian, you should participate in one of its critical cultural expressions: storytelling.  If Indian culture is to be appreciated, how the Indian himself acquires that cultural world must also be appreciated.  In particular, the stories, as expressed in narrative, artistic and ceremonial activity, have been and continue to be the critical means for the dissemination of the miyp, the "teachings," as well as the perpetuation, affirmation and creation of the Indian world.   Issues of oral literature performance, techniques of storytelling, re-membering, and translation will be considered in this course and are discussed during class (and in Frey 1995 Stories That Make the World). But if we are to truly gain access to Indian culture, students must, to some extent, become experientially involved. Given the pivotal role of the stories, you will be asked to personally participate in becoming the storyteller and in "re-membering" an oral tradition. You cannot simply read your story aloud from the pages of a book.

Adhering the practice followed by many tribes, Coyote stories (as either a central or peripheral character) are to be shared aloud only after the "first frost" in the fall, but before the "first thunder is heard" in the spring. Coyote's voice should not to be heard during the summer! Select your story appropriately.

Your starting point is to select a story that somehow "speaks to you,"  you have an interest in, it offers an insightful miyp, etc. for you.  Consider, for example, the narratives in The World of the Schitsu'umsh or Stories That Make the World (copies available in the library or from the instructor).  These are stories that have been previously reviewed by elders for public sharing.  Some stories are not meant to be shared publicly.  In addition, there are other published narratives suitable for re-telling as marked by an asterisk beside the author's name as listed in the course bibliography.   While accessing these oral traditions through the medium of a literacy-based format is certainly not the ideal approach, in The World of the Schitsu'umsh and Stories That Make the World a concerted effort was made to retain some of the oral nuances of these stories.  If you consult Stories That Make the World, please select from the following narratives: "Four Smokes," "Coyote and the Swallows," "Coyote and the Swallowing Monster," "Seal Boy," "Coyote and the Rock," "Coyote and the Woman," or "The Animals and the Sea Monster (Coyote)."  The instructor can suggest additional sources to consider.   

In attempting to re- tell a story from an Indian perspective, it is essential that you engage the story as close as possible to its original oral presentation by the Indian storyteller. Try to engage a story that also has its interlinear transcriptions and a free translation, such as for the Coeur d'Alene with Reichard (1946 and 1947) and for the Nez Perce with Aoki (1979 and 1989) and Phinney (1934).  In all instances, attempt to maintain the "bones" of the story, the essential storyline and teachings, what is perennial within the story since time immemorial.  Remember, new "bones" are not added, and try to retain all the original "bones"  remember these stories were created by the First Peoples (such as Coyote and Salmon) or other perennial human peoples (Burnt Face or Four Smokes), and not by the imagination of some human storyteller.  When accessing interlinear transcriptions of stories you can more easily to get a sense of the use of repetitions, deitics, word structures, suffix endings, etc, the oral nuances of the original telling.   So much of the oral literature, when published in a literacy format, has been modified to fit Euro-American sensibilities.  It is then your responsibility, with your particular storytelling techniques, differing from other students, to reanimate the "bones" of the story, to bring the story alive so others, your audience, can participate within its unfolding story event.

For tribally-enrolled students, please select a cultural tradition you are not associated with.   Present your story along with others of your family and a time convenient for the instructor and members of your family.

After you have "re-membered" and presented your story, reflect on any meanings or significances that you may have "discovered" or were "revealed" to you in the story's landscape during the act of telling. This is "reflective" opportunity, and not an analytical exercise.  Limit your written comments to no more than one page of text.

The telling of your story and reflecting on it are worth 10% of your evaluation.

Evaluation Criteria:

·     based upon "authentic" narrative text, maintaining the "bones of the story" as well as other oral nuances (from the suggested list)

·     uses "appropriate" techniques of storytelling, techniques that are "natural" for the storyteller (see 1995:141-158 and 236-240; 2012:17-19, 24-28,76-84)

·     transforms the "listeners" into "participants" (see 1995: 169-177 and 214-216)

·     attempt to convey an "Indian perspective" (albeit, depending upon one's positioning, an elusive goal, but most worthy attempting).  An "Indian Perspective entails reflecting the miyp "teachings," as well as the underlying indigenous "bones." Can you get close to creating a "transitory intersection of those participating, anchored to the landscape" via your story?  KEY:  Can you as the storyteller convey a level of snukwnkhwtskhwts'mi'ls for your audience and the characters within the story?

·      following your re-telling, effectively reflect on the meaning "discovered/revealed" in the act of re-telling the story (in a one-page write-up)

2. Participatory Project.  The second activity is for you to write a participatory-interpretative project. You are encouraged to join with others of your family to do a group project, with up to a maximum of eight members.  The head people of your family are responsible for helping organize the project and helping assure that all family members contribute to the project equally, with each member providing his or her own unique skills and expertise.   There are two distinctive stages to this project.

Part A.  Narrative Story – Written Paper or as a Performed Script.  The first part of this assignment is for you or your family group to "participate" (through your imagination) in a cultural expression, such as setting up a tule mat lodge, a rite of passage ceremony, a basket-making endeavor, a deer or salmon "hunt" or “catching,” camas digging, a family give-away, or a day-in-the-life. Create a narrative, with single storyline and distinct characters (for each member of your family), that integrates various components of the cultural expression into a specific story.   I prefer that you do not attempt to overtly focus and write on a ceremonial tradition that is particularly spiritually or culturally sensitive, such as vision quest, the Jump Dance or Sweat House ceremony.  Such spiritual activities can be referenced and developed with some detail as a sub-topic within a a larger context, such as a part of the seasonal round.   You can select a topic identified and discussed in the assigned readings, e.g., Coeur d'Alene camas digging, or a topic not covered in the course readings and presentations, for example, researching an aspect of Thompson or Klamath culture.  

For our assignment, you or your family group will need to first thoroughly research the cultural expression you have selected, including its symbolism, structural process, underlying values, expressive social and aesthetic details, narrative oral traditions and associated material culture.  You need to base your research on the historical and ethnographic experiences (the "facts") of the Plateau peoples, on the miyp "teachings," and of the oral traditions  of the Plateau peoples.   You are not to fabricate or create new elements or qualities of the Plateau experiential reality.    If you are referencing a particular narrative oral tradition as part of your project's storyline, keep all of the "bones" of that perennial story in place; try retain the primary "bones," while not adding new ones.

This segment of the assignment will entail extensive library research.   Begin early.  To assist you in your research, consult the bibliography in Walker (1998) and the course bibliography.   In addition to published sources and if the opportunity arises, you can base your research on primary sources, such as an interview with an elder.  In any case, you must include in your research the key published sources that address your particular topic, and you must list at least five (5) primary sources (published and interview).    Internet sources are to be used cautiously and only relied upon in a very limited fashion, with URL sites fully documented as to their academic and/or tribal authenticity and accuracy. 

With this base of solid ethnographic and historical research, you will then write a fictional story text, in either a narrative or script format (as if for a play), developing scenarios, a single storyline, and individual characters which illustrate the meaning and significance of the experiential expressions you have researched.  Throughout, attempt to write from the perspective of the Indian.   Embedded within this text should be consideration and presentation of one or more of the key miyp or "teachings" identified and discussed in the course.  While a fictitious storyline account, the narrative should be fully grounded in solid ethnographic scholarship, and details and realities of the Plateau Indian experiences.  This project is thus an example of "creative non-fiction" - the single storyline and distinct characters are fictional, while the ethnographic details (material culture, kinship, ecological relations, oral traditions, rituals, history, etc.) and overall perspective (Indigenous) are factual and authentic, anchored in the "bones" and expressive of the miyp teachings, practices and experiences of the Plateau Indian.   If you are including reference to a narrative oral tradition, attempt to keep all the bones in the storyline, though telling it using your own storytelling techniques. 

In developing your narrative text try to isolate a specific event in time and space that is representative and significant of the larger cultural context.   Then with as much detail as possible, describe the rich texture of that setting, e.g., who, what, where, when, etc.   Pay attention to the "little things," as well as the "big picture."  But don't attempt to a too board and general.  The detail of a cultural text often reveals what is most meaningful.  You should write from a "first person perspective," as if you are the protagonist of the story, chronicling the event happening to you, as if you are part of the story unfold before your eyes. You are also encouraged to provide illustrations or artwork, clothing, tools or other stage props that might help convey the character and nature of that which you are describing.  The artwork can involve photo copied materials or original work you have created.  If you make reference to an oral tradition or story (from another published source), rephrase the story in your own words, not quoting it verbatim, as if you are "re-membering" the story.     Do not include citation references, footnotes or other formal stylistic notations in the narrative text or script section of your project.   

Please keep in mind that I do not expect you to be ultimately and completely successful in your attempt to "see from the perspective of the Plateau Indian."   But in your attempt to do so you can reveal to yourself some of the challenges in attempting to do so and also reveal your own biases and constraints in attempting to know and understand your neighbors.  The effort is worth the journey.  

For those individuals or family groups who want to take their story text to the "next level," consider performing your story.   Once the script is written, with the members of your family becoming the characters of your story text, arrange a convenient time for your family to stage and enact the story with the instructor.    A copy of the script (and part B.) is still required.

Part B.  Reflective Interpretation – Written. Having laid out the cultural territory in your descriptive text, such as its social kinship setting (e.g., the Nez Perce family), you are now in a position to add a more formal interpretation. The second part of your assignment is to reflect on the meaning of the text you have just written, interpreting its significance as best you can from an Indian perspective.   Use the symbolic coding method of interpretation as presented in Tin Shed and Wagon Wheel.   What might the event you just described mean to an Indian participant?  Acknowledging the enormous challenge and perhaps elusive goal before you, it is nevertheless a goal worth striving for.  As part of your interpretation, ground your text in its historical and cultural context.  For example, provide when the event typically takes place, who are the primary actors, under what circumstances does the event occur, and a brief history.  In order to conduct good interpretative research, the context of a text must be fully appreciated.

The focus of this second part of your assignment is, however, on your actual formal interpretation. To interpret is not to summarize, but to seriously contemplate and consider the cultural assumptions of a particular text. The interpretation should focus on the meaning and significance, and/or the role and function of the event described in the text.  An interpretation should always seek to represent the perspective of the participants being described and avoid being overtly biased and ethnocentric.  In this sense, there can be no "correct" or "incorrect" interpretation of a text.  It is as if you are traveling a landscape (the descriptive text), are you carefully listening to the call of the hawk and whisper of the wind as it rushes through the trees, or wearing darkened sunglasses with the volume of your IPod cranked up?  It's a matter of how and where you position yourself in the landscape.

Length and Format. .   I am more concerned by quality than quantity of this project.  The format of the first section is of course prose-narrative, or a script to be performed, and typically two-thirds the total length of the project.  While the interpretative sections are more formally and academically formatted and around a third of the project.  But to guide you regarding the length is more problematic.   As length relates to a number of factors, including the depth of background research that goes into creating your story, then fully developing the characters and storyline, any art or graphic work added, and finally the depth of the interpretative section in your projects, let me offer these suggestions.  For projects done by an individual, the length of the paper/script should be a minimum of fifteen (15), double-spaced, typed pages of text (in addition to a bibliography and any appendixes), inclusive of any graphics and photos.  For projects done by a family group of two - four members, the paper/script the paper should be a minimum of twenty-five (25) typed pages of text.   And for projects done by the entire family groups of six or more members,  the projects should be a minimum of thirty (30) pages.   It is not uncommon that these projects to exceed these minimum suggestions.   Focus on getting your story fully developed and as authentic, yet appropriate as you can.     

The more formal interpretative section of your paper/script should conform to either APA (American Psychological Association), AAA (American Anthropological Association-Chicago style and is required for anthropology majors), or MLA style of parenthetical documentation, including proper use of citation references, footnotes, other formal stylistic notations, and a bibliography/references cited.   A complete bibliography must be included, for works cited as well as relied upon for the background research.   Keep a copy of the submitted project.  

You need to "okay" a "proposed topic" with the instructor prior to doing your research.  The proposal should include a paragraph outlining the topic and at least three key sources you will rely upon for your research.  The proposal of your project is due at by the end of tenth week of classes.   The final paper/project is due during the last week of classes.  If performed, schedule it a time convenient for the instructor and other family group members.

The entire project is worth 30% of your evaluation.

Evaluation Criteria:

·     the imagination, clarity, detail, authenticity, and ethnographic accuracy of the presented written text or performed script

·     attempt to convey an "Indian perspective" (albeit, depending upon one's positioning, an elusive goal)  KEY: Can you the writer through your story convey a level of snukwnkhwtskhwts'mi'ls?

·     the depth of interpretation rendered for the text, i.e., the thoroughness in which the text is engaged, coded and interpreted

·     the ability to anchor the text in its historic and cultural context, inclusive of key miyp teachings

·     listing your "primary sources," which include the key published sources on the selected topic

      as a family - small group project, clearly identify the contributions of each member

·     conforming to proper AAA (required for anthropology majors), APA or MLA format and style of parenthetical documentation

·     submit proposal, outline draft (if required) and final paper/project at required times

·     if performed, done with cultural appropriateness and theatrical enthusiasm.   Preformed narratives receive extra credit.   A copy of the script of performance is still required.


3. In the Rounds.  The third activity involves two oral recitations - “in the rounds,” covering lecture presentations and textbook readings. The recitations will be oral in nature, with key study questions handed out prior to the “in the round.”  Every student will be accountable for fully and accurately addressing all study questions.  The head people of your family are responsible for organizing study groups prior to the “in the round” and helping assure that all family members are prepared for the recitation.  The class members will gather in a circle on the date and the time of the recitation.  With the instructor asking segments and parts of each question, each student called upon will respond. The “in the rounds” are cumulative, as questions draw upon materials considered and discussed in previous sections of the course.  Recitations must be taken at their assigned times and dates. In the event of a documented emergency, a make-up written essay exam must be taken within one week of returning to class. The student must notify the instructor prior to an absence from a recitation date (by phone or e-mail, or in person).

For undergraduate students, the three “in the rounds” are worth 35% of your evaluation. For graduate students, the three “in the rounds” are worth 25% of your evaluation.

Evaluation Criteria:

·      accurately presents the material requested in the questions.

·      completely covers the breadth of issues posed in the questions.

·      refers to and integrates appropriate case examples from the textbooks to illustrate concepts.

·      makes theoretical and/or ethnographic connections with other tribes or related cultural expressions.

·      reflects on the implications of the issues posed in the questions as they relate to the student's own experiences.

·      spoken in a legible and well-organize style with concepts and illustrative examples clearly articulated.

Please note that a Study Guide  has been prepared to assist you in your preparations for the “in the rounds.”

4.  In-class Discussion and Reflective Talks/Writes.  In order to more fully explore and, in turn, understand the rich meanings offered in the assigned readings, you will be expected to have the assigned readings completed before class sessions.  Come to class prepared.  There will be two opportunities for you to share your interpretations and questions on the assigned readings, one verbal and one written.

In-Class Discussion: At various times throughout the semester you will be called upon to add your voice to the class discussion, responding to questions posed by the instructor or other students, as well as contributing your own questions to the class dialogue, all relating to the assigned readings.   

Reflective Talks/Writes: In addition, you will be periodically asked to respond verbally or in writing to a specific question posed by the instructor on a given assigned reading.  For a "Reflective Talk" you will be asked to partner and visit briefly with other students and respond as a group to the question posed. These responses will ask you to reflect on the significance and meaning of a specific passage or idea conveyed in an assigned reading or previous lecture.  The reflective writes will be a timed exercise, lasting no more than eight minutesTo reflect is not to summarize, but to seriously contemplate and consider the cultural meanings, assumptions and implications of a specific from our textbook readings, guest speakers, or videos.  Your goal are Two-fold: 1. articulate an appreciation of the topic from a Plateau Indian perspective.  2. articulate an understanding of the larger implications and significances of a specific idea or text, all in preparation for a meaningful shared class discussion.   Your written reflective write will be submitted to the instructor.  There are no correct or incorrect reflective writes, just seriously contemplated and articulated thoughts and those that are not.   It is an issue of participation.

The discussion and reflective writes are worth 15% of your evaluation.

Evaluation Criteria:

·     For the Class Discussion:  Respond with clarity and relevance, as well as an informed position to any class questions asked of you.   Pose your own poignant questions and effectively contribute to the entire class in discussion of the reading assignments.

·     For the Reflective Writes:  Reflect on the implications of the points posed in the text of the reading assignment, both from the perspective of an Indian and with the larger implications in mind.

5. Field Trips. Students, both undergraduate and graduate, you are required to attend all scheduled field trips (unless major extenuating circumstances arise).  The trips are typically on Fridays and could include tours to Cataldo and the Coeur d’Alene Reservation; Tamastslikt and the Umatilla Reservation; Spaulding and the Nez Perce Reservation;  or Wednesday, as in the instance of Water Potato digging with the Coeur d’Alene; and a host-family visit on the Warm Springs Reservation. 

Be sure to ask the instructors of your other classes for their class schedules and make sure there are no conflicts.   The field experiences are an integral and essential part of this course.  You can not miss the field trips.

Following each field trip,  you are to write a short reflective write on your experience and submit it within one week of the experience.  

The field trips are worth 10% of your evaluation.

6.  Graduate Student Responsibilities.  For graduate students, as an elder within your family, it will be your additional responsibility to provide leadership and a role model for your family members, including coordination of various learning activities.  Assist with each student's success within the family and with his or her learning activities.  Help mold your family, into a "family."   Lead and nurture.  Review "Leadership Roles" within the Family.

Your presentations are worth 10% of your evaluation.

Civility Clause

In any environment in which people interact in meaningful ways to gain knowledge, it is essential that each member feel as free and safe as possible in their participation.   To this end, it will be course policy and expected that everyone will be treated with mutual respect.   We certainly do not have to agree, but everyone deserves to feel they are heard.   We learn by engaging in constructive evidence--‐based dialogue.   Therefore we shall establish in this course a general understanding that members of this class (including students, instructors, professors, and teaching assistants) will be respected and respectful to one another in discussion, in action, in teaching, and in learning.

Disability Support Services / Reasonable Accommodations Statement

Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have documented temporary or permanent disabilities.  All accommodations must be approved through Disability Support Services located in the Idaho Commons Building, Room 306.  Please meet with either Gloria or Angela at the beginning of each semester to set up accommodations for the semester so that you may notify your instructor(s) early in the semester regarding accommodation(s) needed for the course.

885-6307         email: at      website: at

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